As we know, Customs and Border Protection effectively duplicates the Coast Guard role in drug enforcement and Alien Interdiction in many areas. The Witchita Eagle reports they are currently in the process of buying up to 40 new “multi-role aircraft” in the form of sensor equipped Beech KingAir 350s, or C-12s to use the military designation. (Note Witchita is home of Beech Aircraft)
“According to the agency’s documents, the request calls for a plane whose sensors are able to detect a plane the size of a Cessna 172 from 17 miles away, a 30-foot boat from 29 miles away and a person from seven miles away. It must be able to “classify the target” at a distance of 2 miles, the request said.”
Significantly, the first of these have been assigned to San Diego and Jacksonville, FL, suggesting they will be used for maritime interdiction.
We have talked about this aircraft before as a possible alternative to long ranged, high endurance UAVs and possibly the HC-144.
These appear to be extremely capable aircraft, perhaps equal in effectiveness to HC-144 as search aircraft, and cheaper to operate. If we are not careful the CBP may make the CG appear inefficient by comparison.
These might also be more appropriate for the interception mission CG helicopters currently perform over Washington DC.
Even after the C-27J acquisition, it appears the Coast Guard will still be short of its planned total required number of fixed wing search aircraft. Is a common airframe for both CBP and the CG out of the question?